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Blue Gum Forest Overnight Hike - 7/8 April 2001

by Karen Davis

Leader: Sandra Kelley
Walkers: Alwyn Martin, Denise Davies, Daphne McCann, Ann Holwell, Sue Bosdyk, Karen Davis

The day dawned beautifully as we met at Glendon Motors in Bomaderry for the four hour drive to Govetts Leap at Blackheath. After the requisite morning tea - with scones and muffins a bonus - we set off from the National Park Visitor Centre. Our route would take us along the cliff tops past Pulpit Rock to Perry's Lookdown, then down to the valley floor at the Blue Gum Forest and then five hundred metres upstream to the Acacia Flat campsite. The tops walking was quite warm as we all adjusted to walking with full packs again, but the great views over the valley to the surrounding cliff faces were there to distract us. Lunch was at Perry's Lookdown before a rugged, knee-shaking descent. We arrived at our lovely camp amongst tall bluegums at around 3pm. Camp set and coffee drunk we set off for a stroll into the main section of the Blue Gum Forest, which is an area of tall white-trunked Eucalyptus Salignas. After tree-hugging, berry-eating and photo-taking we returned to camp.

The most significant events of the evening were a large explosion at the next campsite's fire (which we were to find out more about the next morning) and the campfire conversation which seemed to dwell on the topic of funerals, coffins, cremations etc. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the six hundred metre climb to come tomorrow. Anyhow we decided that papier mache coffins were a great idea for cremations.

There was no need for an alarm the following morning as on the dot of 6.30am a helicopter flew low over our camp and landed on the other side of the creek. Apparently a bag of rubbish had been thrown on the next campsites fire last night and one of the teenagers, realising the bag contained an aerosol can, tried to retrieve it. The can exploded just as he reached for it and he was badly burnt. A satellite phone from another group of campers was used to call for help and two paramedics walked in during the night to administer first aid and morphine until the victim could be airlifted out the next morning. What surprised us all was the lack of commotion after the explosion which had left us completely unaware that something was amiss.

After breaking camp we appreciated the cloud cover as we followed Govetts Creek up the valley past Junction Rock to the start of the ascent to Evans Lookout. This climb took over two hours. We passed waterfall after waterfall and walked through lovely beech and fern forest. This was bushwalking at its best - if you could remove some of the steepness. Finally at the top we lunched and then followed the cliff top track the few kilometres back to Govetts Leap, enjoying continuous views and a final spectacular view of the track climbing up the cliff face to Govetts Leap, clinging precariously to the moss-covered wall. The most noticeable wildflowers in bloom along the walk were the Lambertia Formosa and the Correa Reflexa among many others.

We could not leave the Blue Mountains without stopping at a caf for a well-earned arvo tea. Before leaving, everyone thanked Sanddra for a weekend of great walking, scenery, company and conversation. Back in the cars, the soreness from the two climbs began to set into our legs, and we all knew that we probably would not be able to walk when we got home.

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